A board shows different products for sale at a medical marijuana dispensary in Vancouver

Public debate over Vancouver pot shops begins

Public airs views at hearing over medical marijuana dispensaries in Vancouver

By The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – A public hearing on Vancouver’s proposal to regulate pot shops is heating up with more than 150 people set to speak.

Pot-legalization advocates, dispensary owners and patients crammed city hall on Wednesday evening as the hearing began.

City manager Penny Ballem says the number of authorized medical marijuana users in British Columbia accounts for nearly half of all those in Canada.

The city is proposing new regulations to control the rapid growth of illegal pot shops, which have multiplied from fewer than 20 to 94 over the past three years.

The regulations would include a new business licence category, a $30,000 fee and a requirement that stores be 300 metres away from schools, community centres and other pot shops.

Ballem says the city hopes to reduce youth exposure and serious crime and is now considering allowing up to five licences per owner rather than just one.

“We have tried to achieve a really balanced approach here to allow people who need to access marijuana for medical issues to be actually able to do that but to protect the public,” she says.

“Some people think we’re too strict and some people’s input is that we’re too lenient.”

Selling marijuana over the counter is illegal in Canada — regardless of whether it’s medical or recreational — and the federal government has strongly warned against the plan.

The city has said that the federal government’s strict medical marijuana laws have fostered the rise of dispensaries in Vancouver.

Dispensary owners are split on the proposed regulations, with some complaining the hefty fee and location requirements will put them out of business, while others support the rules as a step toward legalization.

The hearing is expected to stretch over several days

Just Posted

HOCKEY: Olympic dreams for Surrey teen now with Canada’s U18 team

Cloverdale’s Jenn Gardiner a third-year star with Comets of B.C. Female Major Midget League

‘Quite a coup’ in rail-safety funding: South Surrey-White Rock MP

Relocation study not included in money for infrastructure improvements along waterfront train route

Fatal crash on Highway 17 in Delta

Footage from the scene shows a mangled white truck that appears to have slammed into a barrier

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

One man dead after crash at Highway 10 and 152 Street in Surrey

Pedestrian hit by two vehicles: Surrey RCMP

Fashion Fridays: Rock some animal print

Kim XO, lets you in on the latest fall fashion trends on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. doctor weighs in on the kid ‘screen time’ debate

A Maple Ridge mother opens up about her children’s use of tablets, smartphones and television

Volunteer-based safety team gets city funding to continue work in Vancouver

Good Night Out is a non-profit society that works to keep people safe at night on Granville Strip

B.C. councillor’s expenses being sent to the RCMP

Decision to have expenses audited and shared with RCMP taken at special meeting of council

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

5 to start your day

National forecaster issues rainfall warning, three crashes in Metro Vancouver overnight and more

Burnaby RCMP investigating ‘serious’ rollover crash

Shortly after 1 a.m. Friday, police said a truck crashed closing Lougheed Highway

Legal society poster seeks complainants against two cops on Downtown Eastside

Pivot Legal Society became aware of allegations made against the officers after a video circulated

Most Read